Deaths | March 30, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - March 30, 2012


Evelyn Pleasant Johnson

Evelyn Pleasant Johnson died surrounded by her family March 8, 2012, at Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City. She died of lung failure, culminating a year of progressive decline in lung capacity.

A resident of Palo Alto since 1931, she was the fourth of five daughters of Carl and Gertrude Pleasant. Her father, a civil engineer, died in 1931 from a mastoid infection, leading to the family's move from Phoenix to Palo Alto, where her eldest sister, Nelly Catherine, was enrolled at Stanford.

Each of the sisters — Muriel, Betty, Evie (Evelyn) and Marjorie — followed Nelly to Stanford after graduating from Palo Alto High School. She was a member of Palo Alto High School Class of 1938, and she graduated from Stanford with the Class of 1943 as a chemistry major. Their mother, Gertrude Copley Pleasant, continued to reside in Palo Alto even after her subsequent marriage to Donald I. Cone, an engineer for Pacific Telephone.

She was active in the youth groups of the Palo Alto First Congregational Church, where she became acquainted with a fellow Paly student, Kenneth W. Johnson. He went off to Caltech for his undergraduate training, but they became committed to each other while she was performing defense work at Alcoa in Los Angeles and he was working on a Navy research project at Caltech. Ken eventually transferred to active duty in the Navy and when he was assigned to a ship in the European Theater in 1945 they decided to get married on Jan. 17, 1945.

After the war ended, they returned to Palo Alto, where Ken earned a master's degree in electrical engineering at Stanford, and he then began working as an engineer in at his father's company, Johnson-Williams.

Following the custom of the times, she stayed home and raised their family of four children: Carol, Marjorie, Larry and Douglas, all of whom graduated from the Palo Alto school system.

A unifying custom maintained for many years was a two-week family vacation at Tahoma on the western shore of Lake Tahoe. She was always enthusiastic about swimming and water-skied for the last time on her 60th birthday. In later years, she and her husband took trips to Europe, Japan, China, Australia, Latin America and New Zealand, and she enjoyed friendships with a family in Japan, whose daughters spent time in the Johnson home. And she particularly enjoyed the friendship of a family from Nigeria.

She was active in numerous women's groups in Palo Alto, one of which, the PEO Sisterhood, she continued to the day of her death. After all the children left home, she returned to the work force, acting as treasurer and working as bookkeeper at her husband's businesses, first at GasTech Inc. and finally, until last year, at his retirement business, KWJ Engineering Inc. She then kept active intellectually with membership in a book club, even while limited in range because of her need for oxygen.

If contributions in her name are desired, the family suggests they be made to The Southern Poverty Law Center or to the California State Parks Foundation. A memorial service is planned at First Congregational Church of Palo Alto on March 30 at 2:30 p.m. All are welcome.

Oswald Peter Thompson

Oswald "Ozzie" Peter Thompson died in his home on March 11, 2012.

He was born in Baldwin, La., and served in the Navy before moving to Texas. After working for the VA Hospital in Texas, he migrated to Palo Alto in 1965.

Husband to Verta Mae Thompson for more than 40 years, the two shared many camping trips, were involved in numerous social organizations, owned their own business and could be seen selling at flea markets and antique shows locally and throughout the state. He was a dedicated and loyal member of Knights of Columbus.

He was father to Verdina, Allen, Michael, Martha, Robert, Jackie and Mark, and stepfather to Elaine and Steve. He was grandfather and great-grandfather to more than 30. He worked as a manager at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto for more than 30 years before retiring. After retirement he continued to work and volunteer with a host of senior citizen organizations.

Henry Dykmans Wagner

Henry Dykmans Wagner (Hank), 93, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., died March 13, 2012.

He was born and raised in San Jose, Calif. He served with the U.S. Air Force during World War II, serving as Group Operations officer, flying B-25s with Chenault and the Flying Tigers in China. He retired as a major in 1946.

He graduated from the University of Oregon as a Sigma Chi where he met his first wife, Peggy. They married, and while living in Atherton and Menlo Park, raised two daughters and one son: Patty, Barbara Lee (deceased) and Bill.

He enjoyed 42 years in the graphic-arts business, selling Heidelberg printing presses. He lost his wife in 1989, but while on one of his many business trips to Hawaii, he met his second wife, Ethel. They married in a traditional Hawaiian ceremony on the beach at sunset on May 22, 1992.

After he retired, they moved from Menlo Park to Sun Lakes, Ariz., where he could enjoy golf, his favorite sport.

He is survived by his wife, Ethel; daughter, Patty Elms of Bainbridge Island, Wash.; son, Bill Wagner of Monterey, Calif.; stepsons, Doug and Paul Budner of Phoenix, Ariz.; six grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

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